Alternative medicine (3)
- Treatment-resistant depression
- Pet therapy: Man's best friend as healer
- Mindfulness exercises: How to get started
- Suicide and suicidal thoughts
Coping and support (3)
- Depression: Supporting a family member or friend
- Mental health: Overcoming the stigma of mental illness
- Support groups: Make connections, get help
- Mental health: What's normal, what's not
Lifestyle and home remedies (5)
- Depression and anxiety: Exercise eases symptoms
- Seasonal affective disorder treatment: Choosing a light box
- Sleep tips: 7 steps to better sleep
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- Caregiver depression: Prevention counts
Risk factors (3)
- Depression in women: Understanding the gender gap
- Stress symptoms: Effects on your body, feelings and behavior
- Empty nest syndrome: Tips for coping
- Male depression: Understanding the issues
- Symptom Checker
- Depression self-assessment
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Tests and diagnosis (1)
- Cytochrome P450 (CYP450) tests
Treatments and drugs (22)
- Antidepressants: Safe during pregnancy?
- Serotonin syndrome
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
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Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
Here are some things to think about before taking an SNRI:
- Antidepressants and pregnancy. Some antidepressants may harm your child if you take them during pregnancy or while you're breast-feeding. If you're taking an antidepressant and you're considering getting pregnant, talk to your doctor or mental health provider about the possible dangers. Don't stop taking your medication without contacting your doctor first.
- Drug interactions. When taking an antidepressant, be sure to tell your doctor about any other medications or dietary supplements you're taking. Some antidepressants can cause dangerous reactions when combined with certain medications or herbal remedies.
- Venlafaxine and blood pressure. At high doses, venlafaxine may raise your blood pressure. Your doctor may want to check your blood pressure regularly if you already have high blood pressure. Your doctor may also recommend that you take a prescription medication to lower your blood pressure, such as a beta blocker.
- Blood thinning medications and SNRIs. Use of aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or anticoagulants, such as warfarin (Coumadin), while taking SNRIs may increase your risk of bleeding.
- Duloxetine and liver problems. Duloxetine may worsen liver problems. If you have liver problems and are taking duloxetine, your doctor may need to do periodic blood tests to see how well your liver is working.
- Serotonin syndrome. Rarely, an SNRI can cause dangerously high levels of serotonin. This is known as serotonin syndrome. It most often occurs when two medications that raise serotonin are combined. These include other antidepressants, medications for certain health conditions and the herbal supplement St. John's wort. Signs and symptoms of serotonin syndrome include confusion, rapid or irregular heart rate, dilated pupils, fever and unconsciousness. Seek immediate medical attention if you have any of these signs or symptoms.
Suicide risk and antidepressants
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that all antidepressants carry a warning that some children, adolescents and young adults may be at increased risk of suicide when taking antidepressants. Anyone taking an antidepressant should be watched closely for worsening depression or unusual behavior — especially in the first few weeks after starting an antidepressant. Keep in mind, antidepressants are more likely to reduce suicide risk in the long run by improving mood.
Stopping treatment with serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors
SNRIs aren't considered addictive. However, stopping treatment abruptly or missing several doses can cause withdrawal-like symptoms, including:
- Flu-like symptoms
This is sometimes called discontinuation syndrome. Talk to your doctor before stopping so that you can gradually taper off the medication.
Finding the right antidepressant
One SNRI may work better for you than another. For example, venlafaxine may be a good choice if you have depression that hasn't improved with other medications (treatment-resistant depression). Duloxetine may help ease chronic pain in addition to treating depression.
Each person reacts differently to a particular antidepressant and may be more susceptible to certain side effects. When choosing an antidepressant, your doctor will take into account your particular symptoms, what health problems you have, what other medications you take and what has worked for you in the past. Sometimes a combination of antidepressants may be the best treatment choice.
Inherited traits play a role in how antidepressants affect you. In some cases, DNA tests such as cytochrome P450 (CYP450) tests may give clues as to whether an antidepressant is likely to ease symptoms or cause side effects. DNA testing isn't widely used yet but is becoming more common.
It can take a long time to find the best treatment for depression. It takes several weeks or longer before an antidepressant is fully effective and for initial side effects to ease up. You may need to try several antidepressants before you find the right one, but hang in there. With patience, you and your doctor can find a medication that works well for you.Previous page
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- Schatzberg AF, et al. Antidepressants: Introduction. In: Schatzberg AF, et al. Manual of Clinical Psychopharmacology. 7th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Publishing; 2010. http://www.psychiatryonline.com/content.aspx?aID=600624. Accessed Oct. 5, 2010.
- Fava M, et al. Antidepressants. In: Stern TA, et al. Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby. 2008. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/221513496-3/0/1657/421.html?tocnode=57543329&fromURL=421.html#4-u1.0-B978-0-323-04743-2..50045-7_1104. Accessed Oct. 5, 2010.
- Hirsch M, et al. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Antidepressant medication in adults: SSRIs and SNRIs. Accessed Oct. 7, 2010.
- Chew RH, et al. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and mixed-action antidepressants. In: Chew RH, et al. What Your Patients Need to Know About Psychiatric Medications. 2nd ed. Washington, DC.: American Psychiatric Publishing; 2009.
- Bostwick JM. A generalist's guide to treating patients with depression with an emphasis on using side effects to tailor antidepressant therapy. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2010;85:538.